#HowTo Optimize Images for Social Networks

Every social channel has a different way of displaying visual content. In fact, they change the specifications sometimes without notifying users directly on the app. Depending on the channel, some have restrictions, while others require their users adhere to specific dimensions.

As a user, have you ever seen a horizontal image shared on someone’s Instastory requiring you to turn your phone sideways? Not what we expect, right? Understanding these expectations boosts the experience and can spark the attention of your target audience.


On Instagram, you have the option of using a square image or expanding the image to display in landscape format. If you’re designing social images outside of Instagram, make sure they’re at least 900 pixels wide to avoid posting blurry images.

Image quality won’t be affected if you were to use a large image file because Instagram resizes the image for the device it’s being viewed on. Your brand should look professional so be sure to review the quality of the image after its posted. 

Facebook, Google+ and YouTube

When in doubt, always choose a horizontal image. To be exact, you want your images to be 1280 pixels wide by 720 pixels tall or any 16:9 aspect ratio. This is the same aspect ratio used for your smart TVs at home. 

A sample 16:9 aspect ratio image.

A sample 16:9 aspect ratio image.

Wide images have a sophisticated look because our eyes are accustomed to it — think of professional photographs and television shows. 

On Google+ (yes, you should be posting on Google if you’re a local business), wider images can take up to two columns, giving your posts more exposure. Liken this to placing a giant billboard right in the middle to gain the attention of your audience.

Wide landscape images are also perfect for YouTube video thumbnails (you’re making thumbnails for your YouTube videos, right?) making them the most versatile social images.

Using this aspect ratio for images, you can effectively reuse one visual across multiple social networks. But, like I mentioned, be sure to check the appearance of these image after you posted them. Social channels can adjust their dimensions without notice and it’s always a good rule of thumb to DOUBLE-CHECK your work.

Finally, remember that bigger is always better when it comes to image quality. The channels you are posting on have gotten very smart and will resize your images for optimal viewing. However, if your image is too small and needs to be enlarged, there will be a significant loss in image quality. Don’t be known for blurry posts on your business profiles.

If you’d like to learn more about what strategy would work best for your brand, send me a message.